back to article Big Blue's biggest mainframe yet is the size of a fridge

At least twenty years after pundits first pronounced the death of the mainframe, IBM has released a new one. Of course, the proof of the pudding will be in the market, but IBM will be hoping that the billion dollars it's poured into developing the new z13 mainframe will get the big end of town as excited as Big Blue itself is …

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  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    and the cost of the software licenses?

    About as much as one of the skyscrapers in the picure probably....

    Paris because even she'd blink at thost costs.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: and the cost of the software licenses?

      It's IBM, the cost is in the services and support contract...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: and the cost of the software licenses?

      If you have a workload to fill one of these, the SW licencing is a darn sight less than the equivalent DataCenter(s) full of x86, never mind the costs of power/cooling/footprint.

      1. MadMike

        Mainframe cpus are dog slow

        I dont get it how IBM can claim that their latest Mainframe can emulate 8.000 x86 servers? Considering that a Mainframe cpu is much slower than a decent x86 server, something does not add up.

        This z13 Mainframe gives 110.000 MIPS in the largest configuration z13-NE1, costing millions of USD.

        http://www.itjungle.com/tfh/tfh011915-story04.html

        This is only 40% faster than the even slower z12. Since z13-NE1 only has 21 sockets, and each socket is much slower than a decent x86 cpu, how can it replace 8.000 x86 servers? Well, it turns out that IBM assumes all x86 servers idle at 1-2% load, and the Mainframe is loaded to 100%. Now, imagine 21 of the x86 servers start to do some work, how can 21 slower z13 cpus keep up with the work load? It is impossible. IBM marketing division is over ambitious again.

        Also, in the link above, the IBM die hard Timothy Pricket Morgan explains that an old IBM P795 Unix server gives 1.6 million CPW. Whereas this z13-NE1 gives 735.000 CPW. This means that the old Power7 server is much faster than this z13 cpu.If you normalize, 32 sockets POWER7 cpus, vs 21 sockets z13 cpus, you see that the old POWER7 cpu is 43% faster than this brand new z13 cpu.

        Ergo, the old POWER7 cpu is about 50% faster than this spanking new z13 mainframe cpu. And we also know that the latest x86 cpus are much faster than the POWER7, and even faster than the latest POWER8 cpu. So, tell me how 21 slow z13 cpus replace 8.000 x86 servers?

        BTW, this z13 mainframe has 10TB RAM. That is chicken sh-t, considering that the latest x86 servers with 8-sockets has 12 TB RAM. And Oracle SPARC M6 server has 32 TB RAM. And this year Oracle will release their M7 server with 64 TB RAM.

  2. Thesheep
    Coat

    Good old Hadoop...

    Running on commodity hardware like this.

  3. getHandle
    Coat

    Nice angles

    Looks like Batman's fridge!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Nice angles

      "Incredibles voice" No rounded-corners....

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Nice angles

      Is that to deflect radar returns? Is this a stealth mainframe?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One sexy piece of hardware...

    Hey, I like my transactions to be encrypted!

  5. Ivan Hallworth

    IBM may have done it again, too early to tell if this is as big an architectural breakthrough as the System 360 was in its day, there is very much a market need for safety first with security built-in and persistent, protected and audited real-time transaction analytics available end-to-end.

    Mainframe concept is still very much with us, from large flagship first-rate systems to writ small on a chip and wafer, due to the need for absolute security and transaction data integrity for the new internet and of things.

    Perhaps true now more than ever in today's tough marketplace and volatile world? Safety first.

    Fujitsu, with their partner Oracle, is a major mainframe maker and this development is likely to raise the protected performance bar for both.

    Interesting and fascinating to watch how this market reacts and develops...

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Err... wrong market need

      There is a market need for "safety without investing into software failover and clustering".

      These require qualified software developers, testers and in most cases fairly complex test setups to verify failure paths. That costs money and quite a bit of it too.

      This is what mainframe addresses and it does it pretty well too.

    2. ToddR

      System 360

      Why in earth would it be as significant as that?

      The 360 catapulted IBM from ANO mainframe maker to #1 by a country mile. Think, transistor, 360, semiconductor, CMOS, network. This is just an evolution of the mainframe

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oracle make DBs and Unix servers. Good boxes, but they ain't no mainframe...

  6. No Quarter

    Can I just have the case?

    That is all.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Can I just have the case?

      Probably, if you think you have the space.

      This looks like the same racks that the 9125-F2C P7 775 system is packaged in (they're both products from IBM Poughkeepsie, NY), an if so, this is 2 racks side-by-side, with each rack over 2.10 metres tall and 1.8 metres deep. Both racks together would be around 2 metres wide.

      In addition, they will not take standard 19" wide rackmount devices without some additional mounting hardware as the 'gap' is 26" IIRC (sorry, I realise I've mixed measurement units).

      IBM actually have some quite fancy doors available for their standard T-series racks, if you want to pay for them!

      1. theblackhand

        Re: Can I just have the case?

        Is that one of the water cooled racks?

    2. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Can I just have the case?

      More than likely you could buy a decent new car for what IBM would charge just for the case/rack.

  7. Callam McMillan

    It looks nice, but I'm kind of confused why they've put it in the lobby of an office rather than in a server room for the photography? Unless of course they're suggesting to all the BOFH's a new way to annoy the users - putting a noisy, but stylish mainframe next to their desks?

    1. Steve Brooks

      Obvious init? You can tell by the trees this isn't the ground floor, the problem with Skynet was always that it was in an underground bunker, when this bleeder suddenly tries to take over the world you just open the window and shove her out, problem solved BOFH style!

      1. frank ly Silver badge

        It seems to have casters at each corner so you can easily move it around during internal reorganisations and re-furnishing/decorating activity.

        Also, I have a feeling that it's quite a bit bigger than my fridge.

        1. proud2bgrumpy

          :-) if it has castors, then its probably not a real one?

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Castors

            Pretty much all racks have castors now, including supercomputers and mainframes.

            I can check, but I think that all of the IBM P7 775 and z196 and the Cray XC40 frames that I can see in the machine room here have castors.

            They also have wind-down feet and load-spreader bars when they are in their final position, so that they don't move.

      2. Roo
        Windows

        "when this bleeder suddenly tries to take over the world you just open the window and shove her out, problem solved BOFH style!"

        "Never trust a computer that's too heavy to lift" - can't recall where I first saw that one, but it has served me well. ;)

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Long John Brass Silver badge

          Odd - redux

          > "Never trust a computer that's too heavy to lift" - can't recall where I first saw that one, but it has served me well. ;)

          I have the same policy with regards to girlfriends :)

          1. Crazy Operations Guy

            Re: "I have the same policy with regards to girlfriends :)"

            If you're like most of the people I've worked with, that list of potential girlfriends is pretty short:

            -Your hands

            -A molded plastic cylinder

            -Inflatables

            -Sheep

        3. earl grey Silver badge
          Happy

          too heavy to lift

          Even back in the 360 days we had a Johnson bar to lift the boxes on one side to retract the feet so it could be rolled about as needed.

          And transistors weren't just a feature of the 360. The earlier 7080/7090 used transistors in their memory (and elsewhere). Of course, they were as big as your pinky fingernail, but they were still transistors.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Many years ago...

      ... I planned the installation of a full height 9076 SP/2 into a normal office space in an IBM building in Basingstoke.

      When installed, it was about half full, and did not quite exceed the floor loading weight.

      After I left, I heard it had been filled. I had visions of it descending through the 11th floor, then the 10th, the 9th and on to the ground!

      1. Haro

        Re: Many years ago...

        I'm glad IBM is above the whole earthquake thing. Probably that case is just printed plastic, and only weighs 50 lbs, but a real one would slide nicely out that window in an earthquake. As well, overloaded floors are just asking for trouble. :)

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Many years ago...

          I know the innards are probably different, but the 9125-F2C which from the picture looks like it uses the same frame, each frame when full weighs 3.5 tonnes.

          The z13 won't weigh quite so much, but the racks themselves are pretty substantial.

        2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Many years ago... @Haro

          Fortunately, the incidence of significant earthquakes in Basingstoke is very low.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Many years ago... @Haro

            Actually significant earthquakes occur frequently in Basingstoke but nobody is interested enough to notice.

            1. Fred Dibnah

              Re: Many years ago... @Haro

              Not frequently enough, nor significant enough, IMHO.

              Poughkeepsie..... great name!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Many years ago... @Haro

              - more like the local stokies are too stoned/pi55ed to care...

      2. Andy 102

        Re: Many years ago...

        @Peter "After I left, I heard it had been filled. I had visions of it descending through the 11th floor, then the 10th, the 9th and on to the ground!"

        Indeed it was filled up and we later updated the switch on it. It sat there for quite a while being used by both HW and Call-AIX members.

        We also had a S70 with separate disk enclosure next to it. So we must have been way over the floor limit at that time.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Many years ago...

        Many (many) years ago we had one of the first VAX 11/780's installed in an office with no goods lift. Those systems weighed around 3/4 tonne (and were less powerful than my current mobile phone!). Floor loading was OK, but when it was delivered it was discovered that the only way to get it in the lift was to uncrate it in the lobby, slide it in (1cm clearance), reach round to push the 2nd floor button, and then run up the stairs.

        It was about 50% over the weight limit for the lift, but people assumed that the lift probably had a factor of 2 for safety, and there's no-one in it, so it'll be OK. It was, almost. The lift stopped about 5cm below floor level. Ever tried to get a 3/4 tonne box up a 5cm step when you only have 1cm room at the sides to insert fingers, levers, etc.?

        They did it, eventually. The DEC service guys said that it went better than a previous delivery, that one had to go in via a window, and just as it reached the 2nd floor it slipped out of the crane's webbing...

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Many years ago...

          A similar lift story from after I left IBM, but not as interesting.

          We had a Power 4 system delivered in a T42 rack to a site I was working at in Poole, and to keep it under the weight limit for the lift and to get it through the doors (it was too high for the lift doors) we stripped the drawers out of the frame in the loading bay, tipped the frame on it's side, and then re-installed the drawers in the frame once it was on the machine room floor. All without telling the IBM hardware engineers!

          The only problem we had was that the SPCN (Sequenced Power Control Network) cables were put back in the wrong locations, which gave us problems with the I/O drawer identification for the remaining life of the systems, even after they were connected correctly.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Many years ago...

        Ah! Alencon...

    3. Steve Hill

      noisy? Get the water cooled one and you'll be able to hear a pin drop in the computer suite.

      Of course, the cooling plant you require will be comparable to that of a small power station, but hey...

      1. PNGuinn Silver badge
        Pint

        Would that be the nutri-matic version with built in drinks terminal and tastebud sensors?

  8. Roger Kynaston
    Happy

    I want me one of those

    sexy toys!

    1. RegGuy1

      Re: I want me one of those

      What, heavy girlfriends?

  9. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Coat

    Do the USAF want those?

    Clearly designed with stealth technology for low radar footprint. Could be useful to a BOFH

    Beancounters footprint not so small, I would guess; they would be alerted by big budget hole, but no visible kit to show for it

    OK, I'm going

  10. boltar Silver badge

    So is it running z/OS or Linux or both?

    Sorry if thats a dumb question, I'm not a mainframe expert, just curious. I presume you can virtualise Linux on it but whats the actual base OS?

    1. Michael Duke

      Re: So is it running z/OS or Linux or both?

      Can run both natively on partitions of the hardware.

    2. joeldillon

      Re: So is it running z/OS or Linux or both?

      I would assume z/VM.

    3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: So is it running z/OS or Linux or both?

      It should be noted that IBM pretty much invented virtualization with the 370 mainframe systems in the early 1970's. About the same time, Intel were making 4 bit microprocessors and TTL chips.

      The virtualization will be performed either by the PR/SM type 1 (hardware) hypervisor or z/VM.

      Read up on Type 1 hypervisors. There does not have to be a host OS, at least not as I think you understand them.

      1. boltar Silver badge

        Re: So is it running z/OS or Linux or both?

        "Read up on Type 1 hypervisors. There does not have to be a host OS, at least not as I think you understand them."

        Well presumably something has to control the physical hardware or nothing would be able to be loaded from disk. I'd call that the OS or at least the kernel.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: So is it running z/OS or Linux or both? @boltar

          Yes, that's quite true, but if you look at PR/SM, the IBM Power Hypervisor, or Amdahl's MDF (the bare-metal hypervisors I've had experience with), they are deliberately very limited in function. The name Hypervisor (derived from an old alternative name for an operating system, the Executive Supervisor) was coined to indicate that it was a supervising program that was not an operating system. It was very deliberate to not call the hosting environment an Operating System.

          It's only relatively recently that you've had Type 2 or 'hosted' hypervisors that sit on top of what one would describe as a normal operating system like Linux or Windows. Examples include the original incarnation of VMware, Xen, KVM and Parallels. I understand that HP's Integrety VM sits on top of HP/UX, although I have no experience.

          And then you have things like VMware ESXi, which is classed as a type 1 bare metal hypervisor, but is really a canned Linux stripped of all functions that are not required to host other systems. Mind you, you could probably say the same about IBM's Power Hypervisor, but that is so deeply embedded in the firmware of Power systems that it's relatively difficult to see that it is Linux at heart.

          Complicating it still further are Oracle/Sun's containers and IBM WPARs, which are not true VMs but still allow you many of the advantages of partitioning.

          It's all getting complicated.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

            Re: So is it running z/OS or Linux or both? @boltar

            Design space explorations!

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